By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
Time ran out on an Iowa Wesleyan comeback attempt in Saturday night?s season opener against Cornell College.
The Tigers battled back from a 21-0 deficit in the first half and made the game of it, eventually faltering 27-21.
Cornell scored twice in the first quarter. Quarterback Blayze Griffis found the end zone on a 55-yard pass to Blake Langhurts and a 45-yard touchdown scramble of his own.
Cornell brought the score to 21-0 after a three-yard rushing touchdown by running back Trevhon Porterfield with 11:17 remaining in the half, but Tiger quarterback DeMarcus Collins led IW to the end zone on their next drive, eventually scoring on a six-yard scramble.
Cornell brought the lead to 27-7 with a 70-yard touchdown reception by Langhurst. The extra point was no good, and that?s where the score stayed until the half.
Collins busted a long touchdown run down the middle in the third quarter. He scrambled ahead for a 45-yard score, and the extra point brought the Tigers within two touchdowns, at 27-14.
The game was delayed for almost an hour due to lightening before the fourth quarter started. It was a defensive struggle after the storm passed, as neither team scored until the final 30 seconds of the game.
Collins hit Dylan McDonald with a two-yard TD pass with 27 seconds left in the game. The extra point was good, cutting the Cornell lead to 27-21, but the ensuing onside kick attempt was recovered by the Rams.
After the game, head coach Michael Richtman talked about the team?s slow start.
?It was a little disappointing,? Richtman said. ?We talked about needing to start fast, and not allow them to get up on top of us... but it was really nice to see our guys respond, because we talked about that too. Things are going to go bad during a season and how you respond is key.?
The final result was much closer than previous games against the Rams. Cornell beat IW 33-9 in 2015, 51-21 in 2016 and 62-25 last season.
Collins finished 23-43 with 320 yards passing, 89 yards rushing and three total touchdowns ont he day. Jacob Santos had 110 yards receiving. Tanner Holder finished with 99 yards receiving and Akenyon Bagley had 81 yards through the air.
Bagley was also the team?s leading rusher with 102 yards, giving him 183 yards of total offense on the day.
IW forced just one turnover on the day. Austin Ferguson picked a ball off in the third quarter.
The Tigers fell to 0-1 to start the season. They?ll hit the road to face former conference rival Eureka College on Saturday, Sept. 8.